Bodie, California– When I say the words “Ghost Town”, what thoughts come into your mind? A piece of the American Old West that sits in decay, barren and dilapidated. A once thriving mining community with gun fights, bar brawls and brothels that now sits idle in the middle of nowhere, with an occasional tumble weed blowing down a dusty road. Welcome to Bodie!
The historical town of Bodie is noted as America’s best intact ghost town and is registered as a California National Landmark. Bodie has been in the stages of “arrested decay”; the buildings are preserved in time with their aged and weathered appearance from the 1880s. The town became a State Historic Park in 1962, and the buildings have been maintained the way they were found when California took over the town. That is why many of the buildings still have the furnishings, linens and old fixtures still in place.
I have been to Bodie twice and both have been while I was visiting Yosemite. The town is just NE of Yosemite National Park and can be done as a day trip, if you are visiting the area. Both times I visited were in the summer but the weather was different each time. On my first visit, it was gray, rainy and muddy. That prompted me to attempt another visit years later and it was sunny with blue skies. Just keep in mind that the weather can change in this part of California, even during the summer months.
Bodie’s cemetery is a short walking distance from town and contains more than 150 grave markers, although there are over 200 known burials. The grave markers range from a plank of decaying wood to an elaborate Masonic pillar. Most of the markers are unreadable due to vandalism or erosion over the century. Bodie cemetery is still an intriguing site to visit, just to pay respects for those who lived and died in Bodie.
Since the state of California took over Bodie and made it into a State Park, they had left the town as is. Not only the exterior of the buildings were not touched but the interiors as well. There are a few buildings that you an walk into and look around. The others you can take a peek in from the windows and see haunting images of houses that used to have life. Homes with linens and table settings still in place, as if the township just disappeared one day. It was an eerie feeling and site.
Bodie does have its resident ghosts and a famed curse. There are stories of phantom children who play at the Mendocio House and at James Cain’s residence, his mistress-maid who was Chinese, still haunts the house.
As for the Bodie Curse, it is pretty well known. I had known about it prior to my visit and same with my friends, who asked if I took anything from the town after I had left. The Curse of Bodie is said to bring bad luck to whomever steals or takes anything from the town. This includes items from former residences, hence the reason why there is still furniture inside the decaying homes. I had heard the curse came down to anything from the area, even a rock so check your shoes before you leave! 😉
Bodie is an intriguing ghost town to visit, if you are in the area. It gives you insight of how many of these mining towns lived and disappeared after a few decades, when the mines dried up. If you are to visit one ghost town in America, make it Bodie. Just don’t take anything on the way out!
For more information, please visit Bodie State Historic Park.
— Photo Journal of Bodie —
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